Acupuncture is one of the oldest forms of physiotherapy, and it is still widely practiced today. It was once a form of Eastern medicine that was unique to physicians who specialized in Asian medicinal practices. Now acupuncture has grown greatly in popularity, especially over the past century. It has been recognized within Western medical research as being a highly effective tool for supporting injury recovery, mobility issues, and treating chronic pain.
Acupuncture is highly effective in treating muscle tension. There are many reasons why muscle tension may become a personal health issue. In some situations, muscle tension will develop after extreme bouts of emotional stress, but other causes are more physical in nature. A sports injury or a car accident can cause a muscle to become tense, especially following a larger injury. Other times, repeated motions can cause muscle tension to develop. This includes regular lifting, typing, and other household tasks.
Muscle tension can develop anywhere however, it is very common in the lower back and neck. Many people use medicinal pain management to try to help reduce the tension in their muscles. However, this is not a long-term solution. Many pain management medications have side effects that make taking them long-term unwise or even impossible.
Muscle tightness is a vicious cycle. It both causes pain on its own, and further results in other parts of the body tensing up in anticipation of that pain. Many patients find acupuncture helpful for both decreasing pain and relaxing the body overall. Working with an Edmonton, AB physiotherapist to address muscle tension is the most effective way to take long-term action in overcoming this concern.
People often think of acupuncture as a quasi-science. That may be because it has ancient roots in Eastern medicine. This has led to people perceiving acupuncture as having semi-majestic connotations that question the authority and effectiveness of the treatment method. Acupuncture uses targeted puncturing to release tension in the body. Targeted puncturing can be performed with large needles. In addition, it can also be completed with small pins, pressurized balls, and even cups.
Acupuncturists use needles or other tools to gently apply pressure both at the place of stiffness, and at distant parts of the body. These are areas that control different pathways to healing – such as to the glandular system. Acupuncturists use their knowledge of the glandular system and the pathways of inflammation to target the entire body. This alleviates tension throughout the body and will decrease pain and improve quality of life.
Acupuncture works by stimulating natural pain-relieving chemicals in the body, including a combination of endorphins and neurotransmitters. The release of these chemicals triggers the pain receptors in the brain to experience less pain. Then, by stimulating blood flow to the area experiencing muscle tension, acupuncture also helps to heal that area of the body as increased circulation in an injured area naturally speeds recovery.
By releasing natural painkillers in the body, acupuncture needles help short-circuit the loop of pain, and stiffness from anticipating pain. This works in the following ways:
The body naturally releases happy chemicals which are called endorphins. Physical activity such as cardio naturally releases endorphins. When people run long distances, they will release endorphins. The release of endorphins causes an effect referred to as “runner’s high,” the euphoric-like experience that people get when running long distances. Acupuncture will also stimulate the release of these mood-boosting and pain-suppressing opioid neuropeptides. When your nervous system releases endorphins you automatically begin to experience less pain. This can help alleviate pain from muscle tension, too. This will relax the areas that were “taking up” the slack.
In addition to endorphins, another way to alleviate pain naturally is by stimulating neurotransmitter and hormone production. These chemicals are directly related to your mood and perception of different environmental factors, and could be the reason why you handle stress differently one day to the next. The stimulation of neurohormone production puts your body in a better situation to handle muscle tension more effectively. The strategic placement of needles in your body’s glandular system will release substances such as dopamine. The needles stimulate the glands. This regulates the secretions from the glands in a more pain-suppressing manner. Dopamine also plays a role in relieving muscular and emotional tension, further enhancing the effects of the acupuncture treatment.
Another common cause of muscle tension is the development of muscle adhesion. Essentially, this happens when over a prolonged period of time, a buildup of scar tissue develops on the connective tissue that joins nerves and muscles. These adhesions often cause a general stiffening up of the affected muscle groups, because they become fused to one another. (In addition, other muscle groups that rush in to support the failing ones also become overworked.)
A skillful acupuncturist will be able to identify these adhesions and target them with strategic placement of acupuncture needles. If after treatment some muscles are relaxing and others aren’t — This could signify adhesions on the connective tissue. Applying needles directly to that area helps dissolve these buildups by improving blood circulation and healing endorphins.
Acupuncture is an effective method for alleviating chronic pain that results from muscle tension. Acupuncture is not something that can be practiced at home or without a licensed and experienced acupuncturist. Contact ProActive Physiotherapy for an appointment and to find out how this form of treatment may be able to support your optimal wellbeing.